Tariffs on around $19 billion dollars’ worth of popular high-tech goods imported into Australia will be eliminated under an agreement reached by the World Trade Organization (WTO) overnight in Nairobi, the Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb has confirmed.
When the original Information Technology Agreement (ITA) was struck back in 1996, technologies that we now take for granted like touch screens, GPS devices, and lithium ion batteries were not covered.
Mr Robb said that for the first time the ITA will now cover a range of consumer electronics including headphones, loud speakers and amplifiers, as well as video game consoles. Medical devices such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines, electro cardiograph (ECG) machines and bionic ear implants - like those made by Cochlear - will also be covered.
“The agreement reached between more than 50 WTO members to expand the ITA means global tariffs of up to 35 per cent will be eliminated on 201 high technology products, covering over US$1.3 trillion in global trade,” Mr Robb said.
“By eliminating tariffs on these technology products we immediately reduce their cost, potentially boosting demand and stimulating further innovation. The ITA expansion will make it much easier to ship these heavily traded goods around the globe,” he said.
Mr Robb said the ITA demonstrates that the WTO can still achieve practical outcomes to liberalise global trade.
“It has been 18 years since the WTO last agreed to eliminate tariffs. The ITA is a good opportunity for the WTO to demonstrate its ability to deliver ambitious trade liberalising outcomes,” Mr Robb said.
Australia imports around US$18.9 billion worth of goods covered under the new agreement, and exports around US$3.6 billion.
“Eliminating tariffs on these goods in Australia and throughout the globe will reduce costs across a range of sectors including retail, technology industries such as software design, and IT service providers,” Mr Robb said.
Subject to our domestic processes, Australia will begin implementing its commitments on 1 January 2017. Further information on the ITA can be found on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website http://dfat.gov.au/trade/agreements/Pages/information-technology-agreement.aspx.